Mark Bebbington Presents 'You Don't Have to Be Jewish' Featuring World Premiere of Lost Works by Harriet Cohen, Works by Gershwin, Debussy, Bliss

By Jaime Prisco on Jan 28, 2015 04:10 PM EST

English pianist Mark Bebbington will present “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish," a concert about Jewish musicians and the Jewish influence. The concert will present the world premiere of four lost works by pianist Harriet Cohen. George Gerswhin's songbook as well as works by Debussy, Arthur Bliss and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco will also be presented.

Bebbington is known for bringing lost or forgotten pieces to the spotlight, having premiered the Vaughan Williams Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, a complete John Ireland CD cycle, and the piano music of Castelnuovo-Tadesco. Next will be Cohen, one of the most important musical figures of the 20th century.

The often-omitted pianist was a force, with almost all British composers writing or arranging for her. Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Walton, Ireland, Bliss and Bax, who regarded her as his muse, are just some of the composers who worked with her. Even Bartok dedicated works to her.

She was not just an influential musician but also a leading voice in the drive to save Jews from Germany. But as a composer, her work is still not widely known. With an introduction to her four teaching pieces, artists can gain insight on the talented pianist.

"She had an influence on almost the entire evolution of British piano music in the 20th century," said Bebbington, in a press release. ”Talented and irresistible, she was almost a kind of English Alma Mahler. There was tragedy in her, too, and she was devastated when she discovered that Bax had other affairs. To this day nobody knows whether the subsequent cutting of her wrists, which ended her two-hand playing career, was deliberate or not. I hope that these lovely little works remind people of her importance and give us an idea of how she thought and how she felt.”

The show will be Feb. 4 as a part of the Central Synagogue's International Concert series in London.

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TagsMark Bebbington, You Dont Have to Be Jewish, World Premiere, Lost Works, Harriet Cohen, George Gershwin, Debussy, Bliss

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